Will the $400K Prince of Wales Stakes tomorrow afternoon at Fort Erie be a horse race? What kind of question is that, you’re asking. But think about it. The King’s Plate three weeks ago at Woodbine turned into a ho-hum rerun of the Plate Trial after Paramount Prince took the lead and none of the other 16 horses in the field challenged him. The race for first place was over after the first quarter.

Mind you, Paramount Prince is doing exactly what Wando — the last winner of Canada’s Triple Crown — did 20 years ago. Wando won the Queen’s Plate gate-to-wire and was able to do the same thing in the Prince of Wales before coming from just off the pace to win the Breeders’ Stakes. Patrick Husbands was Wando’s rider back then, too, so why not try and follow in Wando’s hoofprints to win the Triple Crown again?

Logic says, however, that three trainers who have two entries each in the Prince of Wales (Kevin Attard, Mark Casse and Michael De Paulo) will send a horse to challenge Paramount Prince in the early going. But, then again, trainers with multiple entries didn’t do so in the Plate — so who knows?

But there’s also this scenario: If another horse becomes a rabbit, Husbands may simply pull Paramount Prince behind that horse with the intention of inheriting the lead when the rabbit starts to tire. Paramount Prince doesn’t know what it’s like to finish out of the money, either. He’s six for six.

All of which makes this 88th running of the second leg of the Triple Crown full of interest and speculation, more than most others in recent memory. Not to mention there’s a full field of 12, which hasn’t happened since 2002.

All of this analysis could turn to mush, however, if Paramount Prince doesn’t take to the dirt surface. Woodbine’s Tapeta synthetic track is regarded as a “near-turf” surface which makes the Prince of Wales essentially a turf-to-dirt affair. In the past 10 years, four favourites DID win the Prince of Wales, making a smooth transition to dirt, but in 2015 and 2017 the winners went off at 13-1 and 14-1 respectively. And you could usually count on longshots rounding out triactors and superfectas. Last year, a 40-1 finished third, a 31-1 was third in 2018, a 29-1 was third in 2016 and a 32-1 horse completed the superfecta in 2015 and a 62-1 bomber did so in 2014. So, regardless of who you like to win the race, aggressive exotics play could land you a biggie.

I’m going out on a limb and predicting #6 Kaukokaipuu at 12-1 will vastly improve on his King’s Plate performance where he finished 15th. With a better trip he should be close to the pace and, if he doesn’t mind the dirt going, could prevail. (Note his jaw-dropping bullet :46.20 dirt workout last Tuesday at Fort Erie, almost two seconds faster than the next-fastest horse that day.) His in-the-money record is nine for 12, his closing fraction at 1 1/8-miles is among the best in the field and, hey, he beat Paramount Prince several races ago. I thought he was worthy of a big show wager in the Plate and his dirt workout tells me he’s still worth major consideration.

For deeper exotics play, the two other horses I had picked in the King’s Plate and still like are #4 Stanley House and #10 Velocitor. They finished third and fourth in the Plate at odds of 4-1 and 71-1. I had used closing-fraction rules to pick them in the Plate and those rules still stand. So triactor and superfecta boxes to consider — tepidly — are the even numbers 4-6-8-10. I say “tepidly”, of course, because they haven’t raced on dirt. The only horse in the field to have done so was #12 Cool Kiss at 8-1 who did so once, finishing second at Gulfstream last November. Maybe add him to the mix.

The Prince of Wales is the tenth race on an 11-race card that begins at noon ET.

A mere $1.20 ticket takes down $44K pick-6 jackpot at Woodbine

A mere $1.20 USD ticket took down the $43,873 USD Power Pick-6 jackpot yesterday at Woodbine in races seven to 12. “It was a high volume U.S. customer,” Woodbine communications manager Mark McKelvie told Bettor’s Edge. The player’s winning 20-cent wheel contained these horses, he said: 2/2,5,8/3,5/5/5/13. The winners were 2-5-3-5-5-13.

It was a tricky sequence with only one winning favourite—in the fifth leg. The biggest payout, $36.20, came in the last leg which the player singled. Starting in race 7, the winners paid $10.80 (maiden claimer), $31.10 (turf stakes), $9.20 (turf stakes), $20.20 (maiden special weight), $5.10 (favourite — $25K claimer) and $36.20 (turf optional claimer).

Predictably, the 20-cent pick-5 on the last five races yesterday also had a sizable payout: $8,389. The pool was $106K.

The Bettor’s Edge is still waiting to report that a Canadian bettor has landed a big jackpot, either in the Power Pick-6 or the Jackpot Hi-5. Maybe the betting group at ASD, co-hosted by yours truly, can make it happen!

Flurry of stakes—and increased wagering—as Assiniboia Downs winds down

The Canadian Thoroughbred track that has raised eyebrows for its widespread wagering support, Assiniboia Downs, will hold its sixth-last card of the meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. CT as it gears up for the five biggest stakes races since the Manitoba Derby.

Tomorrow night the best Manitoba-bred horses vie for $40K in purse money in the 1 1/8-mile J.W. Sifton. Then next Monday it’s the $40K one-mile Buffalo Stakes for top Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds and the $50K 1 1/8-mile Matron for top fillies and mares. Then Tuesday will feature the $50K 6-furlong Winnipeg Futurity for top 2-year-olds and the $50K 1 1/8-mile Gold Cup for the best horses on the grounds.

Wagering in recent cards has increased by as much as 20 per cent over last year. The prairie track benefited for being among the quickest to figure out how to race during the pandemic, developing a far-afield fan base that has remained loyal—and even increased. Its races get more play than U.S. tracks racing at about the same time. Last Wednesday, for example:

  • Remington in Oklahoma: Players wagered $749K on eight races, the late pick-4 pool was $41K. Per race wagering: $93,673.
  • Mountaineer in West Virginia: Players bet $950K on eight races, the late pick-4 pool was $52K. Per race wagering: $119,961
  • Assiniboia Downs in Manitoba: Players bet $1.2 million on seven races, the pick-4 pool was $65K. Per race wagering: $178,150

“The pandemic is the best thing that happened to the Downs,” is commonly heard among players who marvel at pools that are more than five times higher than before the pandemic hit.